Let us in education dream of ….

Let us in education dream of an aristocracy of achievement rising out of a democracy of opportunity. Thomas Jefferson

This is a quote of some beauty  which I want to perserve so I’m blogging it. I had a short conversation today with someone about Justin Smith Morrill, author of the Morrill Land-Grant Acts , and the seeming prescience or forethought these men had and of the somewhat depressing fact that statements like the one above are still dreams as yet fufilled.

Morrill, Jonathan Baldwin Turner, Liberty Hyde Bailey, Jane Addams, Eduard Lindeman, Mary Parker Follett – and the list goes on. So many who have thought seriously, spoken eloquently, about educating adults and yet here we are in 2008….

Meaning of Adult Education

Of late I’ve been reading some historical materials about the origins of Cooperative Extension and during this exploration I came upon “The Meaning of Adult Education” by Eduard Lindeman.  As I began reading I was struck by counterpoised feelings – I am always comforted in finding that others, long ago, entertained a progressive, enlivening vision of what education can be and at the same time I am saddened that so much of what was said can still be said today with equal validity – we seem to have not progressed.

So when Lindeman says “The fact that over half the children in our public schools stop at eight grade and that only ten to twelve percent of those who enter high school complete the course may constitue an indictment, not against intelligence, but against the formalism of our educational system”  we can, and should of course, alter the statistics to our current state – 71% graduation and so on, but the salient point still holds. The formalism is deadening, even for those who survive the public schooling process. This struck me because I’m preparing for one of my sons high school graduation this friday and another son moving from 6th grade elementary school up to the high school.

I’ve railed before against all the standardized testing, worksheets and inanity that occurs in our schools- it’s little wonder that our kids run off to myspace and video games and places where they can have some control and expression.

Lindeman was writing 82 years ago, by the way………